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NHL lockout's collateral damage grows; Wild cut employee hours

November 27, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Craig Leipold, left, owner of Minnesota Wild, follows NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, center, and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis after a collective bargaining meeting in Toronto in October.
Craig Leipold, left, owner of Minnesota Wild, follows NHL Commissioner… (Chris Young / Associated…)

As the labor dispute between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Assn. lurches toward federal mediation that might produce a season-saving compromise, word comes from Minnesota that emphasizes how costly this lockout has become for so many people who are associated with the game at different levels.

The Star Tribune reported Tuesday 200 employees of the Wild will be put on four-day, 32-hour work weeks, which will bring a 20% cut in pay. To lessen the blow, the cuts won’t be felt in employees’ paychecks until after Christmas.

Oh, and in case you have forgotten, the Wild is the small-market team that spent $196 million over the summer to sign free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to identical 13-year, $98-million contracts that included a $10-million signing bonus to each player. Though Suter and Parise — like other NHL players — are not getting paid, both players got their bonus checks.

So the Wild paid $20 million to two players who aren’t playing and now feels compelled to economize on staff salaries, which surely aren’t in the $98-million range. Happy holidays, folks!

Spokesmen for the Kings and the Ducks said Tuesday their respective clubs have not laid off or reduced the hours and pay of any staff members.

Based on information collected in a non-scientific survey of writers who cover NHL teams, not many clubs have instituted massive staff layoffs or pay cuts.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, staffers of the Columbus Blue Jackets are getting reduced salaries, including executives, coaches and broadcasters. Other employees are working four-day weeks with 80% of full pay.

The Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues have previously laid off workers.

And, of course, many ushers, vendors, security guards and other workers employed by arenas that usually host NHL games are losing work and money too.

The NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to begin their sessions with representatives of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Wednesday, probably in Washington or New York.


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